The Energy Information Administration recently reported that energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in the United States declined 15% in absolute terms from 2005 to 2013. Emissions were 27% lower in 2013 than were projected (based on 2005 demand growth and carbon intensity trends). Three fundamental changes in the electric power sector are driving the reductions: declining demand growth, ongoing switch from coal to less-carbon-intensive natural gas, and growth in non-carbon generation (e.g., solar and wind).
The United States has quietly, and to some surprisingly, reduced carbon emissions both against previous trends and in absolute terms through a combination of flat to declining demand, conversion to natural gas, and deployment of energy efficiency and renewables. Whether these gains can continue or represent “low-hanging fruit” remains to be seen as states begin to plan strategies for meeting new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules regulating carbon emissions from existing facilities.
EIA’s Today in Energy: http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=18511
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